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Acura TSX vs Lexus IS 250

fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
edited March 7 in Acura
These two entry-lux performance sedans are within one HP of each other. The Lexus offers RWD and famous Lexus refinement while the TSX offers a high revving I-4 and playful handling dynamics.

What are your likes/dislikes?


  • I drove 2006 versions of both (autos) this weekend. The HP might be same but I find the extra 20 ft-lbs of torque to make a real difference when accelerating up to high way speeds. The IS felt a bit quieter and smoother when cruising. Overall iy felt a step higher on the luxery scale. The TSX has more features (xenons standard, fold down rear seats, and a Driver seat memory). IS has ventilated seats and push start) and an extra couple of inches of rear seat room. It also had the "metal" trim which I prefer to the wood.

    If all you care about is driving, I think the IS250 is a slight step up. If you care about money and practicality it isn't so clear. If you throw in value ( the tsx is about 5-6k cheaper) it is a real hard choice. I sort of wish I could see the base is model since I am not sure in the luxery package and 18" wheels are really worth it to me.

    Right now I am definitely leaning towards the IS but my one thought is that I need to go back and trying the TL. My initial thoughts were it is bigger than I want but it might be the better car for me.
  • I'm also looking at the IS 250 but the no fold down rear seats really hurts (what are they thinking, its seems like an easy option to include). I just love the way the IS 250 looks from the exterior but I'm a cyclist and need a car that I can fit my bicycle into.

    Dave in VA
  • Nice points, but:
    1. You don't have to get the wood trim in the TSX.
    They also offer a "metal" trim.
    2. I most definitely found the TSX had greater leg room.
    I am only 5ft 7in, and I thought the back seat of
    the Lexus was quite tight. In fact, this is a dominant
    them on the Lexis forum.

    It really is quite a tossup between the two though.
    THey are both on my short list, as well as the Audi A3.
  • Can you really get a bicycle into the trunk of the TSX
    anyway, even with fold down seats?
    Why not just get a bike rack for the top, and not
    have this determine your car choice?
  • 1) I ment you have to get wood on the IS. Yes supposedly there are base and sport packages out with metal but I think they are largely imaginary at this point of time
    2) if you pop out the front wheel you can slide most bikes into a car. I have done it numerous times with civics so I image a tsx would be even easier. If this is a major consideration I would also look at the a3. The hatch really helps. A3 is also clearly faster than either the tsx or is.
  • Below is from my other post today, Audi and VW are one-in-the-same.

    I'm so disappointed with VW's service, both from the dealer and VW of N. America. I'll post later in depth about all my problems. Over the past two weeks the car has been in the shop 4 times, each time they give it back to me, it runs worse than the time before and the dealer states a different problem and wants more money...NO, NO, NO! The sad thing is that I was set on buying a new A3 3.2 S-line this Jan/Feb but I just can't give VWAG anymore of my business, period. I'll just have to settle for something else, maybe the new IS 250 or the TSX, something that is reliable.

    Volkswagen DOES NOT stand by their product, beware! More horror stories to come, nobody is going to believe how bad it has been.

    Dave in VA
  • Because when you have a bike that costs 6k you don't want it to be exposed ;-)

    Actually its because I have a time trial bike (tour de france) that has a disc wheel in the back that will not work with roof mounted racks. I could go with a trunk-mounted rack but I would still like the option of fitting it inside if needed. And to answer your question, yes, a bike will fit inside no problem when the seats are folded down.

    Dave in VA
  • VW and Audi are owned by the same companies. That doesn't necessary make them the same in terms of dealer support. I have read stories where Audi has seperated there QA from VW to improve the quality of the products. Audi has done very well on recent 90 day reports. If that translates into long term reliability is up in the air at this point. It is definitely a check mark against them compared to lexus/acura.
  • Yes, I keep telling myself the same thing, trying to justify a reason to look at the A3 3.2 S-line. I love this car and its perfect for me BUT I'm currently in a war with VW of NA and my local VW dealer. They have pissed me off so much that I just don't think I can support their operation. Trust me, I'm totally bummed. I was in Europe this summer admiring the A3's all over the place and telling my wife...there's my next car. I don't know maybe Audi service is totally separate but they share the same roof in Auburn Hills, MI so I'm going to lump them together.

    Dave in VA
  • "IS has ventilated seats and push start) and an extra couple of inches of rear seat room. It also had the "metal" trim which I prefer to the wood."

    Which one has the metal trim, the lexus or acura? In the photos I've looked at on the web it seems like metal trim is an option on the acura but all the lexus' come with a wood center console? Is this true, I think the IS 250 would look much better with all metal trip inside. Also, looking at the specs, the acura seems to have more space in the rear seats, maybe in person its different?

    Dave in VA

    Dave in VA
  • Sorry for the confusing sentence. The tsx is normally a metal trim. I think one of the colors packages has wood but I haven't seen it. The IS250 base model has a metallic trim. As far as I know, that car doesn't exist outside of lexus's web site. On the lots Yyou have to order some package which adds wood. There is a sports package that keeps the metallic trim but I thik it might be 350 only. I would much rather have metal. The rear seats of the TSX definitely have an extra couple of inches of seat room.
  • Yeah, I was also wondering if you can add the sports package to the IS 250. On edmunds and's configulator you can add it to the IS250 but on the lexus website you cannot? If I were to get the IS 250, all I want is the sports package; I think this brings the MSRP up to 35K, not bad.

    Dave in VA
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    The toyota and lexus websites are notorious for pre-selecting option packages for you without the abilty to remove them. I think it's based on your zip code.

    Anyways, I'm sure you can factory order/dealer trade for the exact car and features you want.
  • The dealer I talked to said that the sports package was only available on the 350. Dealers have been wrong before though.
  • Sports package is available on the RWD Lexus IS cars (IS250MT, IS250Auto, IS350Auto). It looks like it might not be available on IS250 AWD. They are not making many with sports package so these might have to be special ordered which takes about 3 months.
  • Have taken both cars for a test drive are my thoughts.


    The Lexus is a wonderful looking car. Everything about it screams goegeous. There isn't a bad angle looking at it. The interior is well designed too. You can feel the quality in each of the controls, and the sterling colour options looks amazing.
    The TSX is more conservative. It is still a good looking car, but just doesn't grab my attention the same way. The interior feels more sporty than the lexus. (which is the way a sports sedan should be) But like its exterior, the interior just doesn't grab my attention the same way.
    Winner: Lexus

    The lexus is a smooth customer. Its ride is all about pampering the driver. Thus, you don't feel too many connections with the car. The Steering was a little light, and the engine was underpowered but smooth. While driving this car you can really feel its weight. But, the biggest disapointment came with its manual tranny. The lexus had a sloppy tranny with the worst hydrolic clutch I've ever tried. I could not feel when it was engaging or releasing the drive shaft. For a "sport" sedan this was a major letdown. Considering the IS 300 had one the best manual transmissions, this was a huge dissapointment. A descent tranny could have let me forget all the other shortcomings.
    The TSX has a sporty ride to it but contains the road imperfections well. The car connects with its driver, and begs to be pushed. The steering which is a little too heavy at parking lot speeds comes in handy when pushing the car to its limits. The engine wanted to be pushed and could do so with ease. Those extra horses in this years model are helpful. The car felt very responsive and agile. The manual tranny continues to be one of the best on the market. Its clutch is perfect and the tranny does wonders with its short throws. This car is a drivers car.

    Winner: TSX


    In Canada the IS 250 doesn't have much value to it at all. A IS with the same options as the TSX is worth more than 42,600. Thats 7 thousand more than a TSX. Although its key-less entry and air conditioned seats are cool, there is no need for a 204 horsepower car to cost this much. The car does have alot of style to it, but considering the back seats are useless (I'm 6.2 and my 5.7 115 pound wife can't sit behind me) the lack of trunk space, horrible manual tranny and price, this car just doesn't make sense. After expecting soo much this car falls way too short.

    Considering the TSX is more than 7 thousand dollars cheaper and the only option you can get is NAV, it seems well priced. The car is fun to drive. The engine, transmission, livable rear seats, trunk, stereo and all kinds of storage space get you by the cars placid looks. A car that wants to be driven is the car I want to drive.

    Winner: TSX
  • gee35coupegee35coupe Posts: 3,475
    Ain't that the truth. I saw my first manual transmissioned IS this week. The shifter felt so bad compared to our 04 Accord that I didn't even bother to drive it. I'd rather have another Accord. Even an older one. Thinking of just buying a used '99 5 speed EX and throwing a few mods on it. I'd save a chunk of money and be fast enough.
  • Great review, thank you for that. I also think the IS 250 LOOKS SWEET but the price coupled with the lack of rear seat space and the no-fold-down rear seats is pointing me towards the Honda, opps...Acura. I'm also going to test drive the Saab 9-3 and the 325ix over the next few weeks.

    Dave in VA
  • I never drove the IS250, but the price is just too rich for my blood, plus you probably have to buy it at sticker. I got an '06 TSX for around $27K and it has all the features that I would want in a sport sedan; it's fun, it's quick, it's luxurious. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the look of the IS250, and I am sure it's fast, and has the vaulted Lexus reliability. I am very happy with my TSX, there is no better sport sedan for the price.

    My other car is an A4 1.8T, great car, horrible reliability. Thank god it's a lease and under warranty, I would never own this car out of warranty.
  • Man, you hit the nail right on the head. I also think that the IS is beautiful, more so that the tsx, but the value for Canadian purchasers does not exist. They pulled a scam by omitting the moonroof and the 17 inch wheels in Canada, and, as you say, charge you thousands to get 'em back. If I were purchasing from scratch, I might still the IS, but compared to my 04 tsx, there is no reason whatsoever for me to move 'up'. Plus that backseat is a joke. Plus, Lexus screwed Canadians on the exchange rate. It charges about 25-30% over US prices, when the Can $ is only discounted 15%. Ripoff. What a total disappointment.

    I talked with a dealer and told him what I thought of the price. Refused to test drive it. I told him to call me when they put their Euro turbo diesel in it. Same applies to Acura. If the put their awesome diesel in the tsx, I would definetly trade mine in.
This discussion has been closed.